Former French President and Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle once mused, “The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” This opinion has become increasingly relatable among Americans: in a time when the country is facing a deep political divide, people turn to their pets as a reminder of the good in this world. As the collective attitude toward pets has shifted and dogs are increasingly recognized as a member of the family, owners see the health and well-being of their dogs as paramount. It is this sentiment that drove UC Berkeley alumnus Jonathan Regev to form his own dog food company.
Before being admitted to Berkeley, Regev was unsure if he wanted to attend college. He had experienced some success with a business he started in high school and wasn’t sure if college was the right fit for him. Then an opportunity to visit Berkeley arose. “I distinctly remember visiting a family friend who was graduating from Cal and having the chance to visit the campus and meet some students. There was something about seeing the environment for myself; I knew that I had to study at Cal.” He took a leap of faith and submitted his sole college application to Berkeley, deciding that he would keep applying until he was accepted. While this seems bold to the average person, Regev has, “always felt comfortable with straying from the traditional path.” Thankfully for Jonathan, he only needed one application to get him into his dream school.
It was obvious to Regev what he wanted to study before he applied to Berkeley. “I was naturally inclined to business. Going through high school, it was something that always piqued my interest. The decision to go to Haas was an easy one. The environment at Cal and the people you meet are arguably the best thing about the school.” During his time at the Haas School of Business, Regev began developing a sense of the type of businessperson he wanted to be. “When I look at a business, I strictly look at it as creating something that people really value. Profits should be driven by value creation rather than trying to swindle consumers. “
When asked if there was a particular class or professor that made the biggest impact on him, he answered without hesitation. “That’s an easy one. Ken Singer’s class on Mobile Application through SkyDeck was a multidisciplinary course that included the Engineering and Business Schools. The point of the class was to find a problem, create a business plan to solve it, create the beginnings of a product, and then pitch your idea in front of the entire class. This class gave me so many tools that I still use today. You go through so many classes that are theoretical, but that class took all of the theory and had us put it into an application.”
When it came to career pursuits, Jonathan took a road less traveled from his fellow Haas grads. Rather than jumping at the opportunity to join one of the Bay Area’s numerous tech giants or going into management consulting, he accepted an offer with a European venture firm. It was a unique opportunity that would take him to Asia where he was tasked with starting and running company that he would not own, using money that was not his, with a guaranteed salary. It took away the risk of being the founder of his own company while providing him with experience and an invaluable skillset — one that he would use to help him found The Farmer’s Dog.
After living abroad for two years, Regev moved to New York City to take a role with a boutique consulting firm. While adjusting to life on the East Coast, he temporarily moved in with an old friend; it was this move that led to his “a-ha moment.” He noticed that his friend, and now co-founder, was cooking the meals for his dog from scratch. “From the moment Brett adopted his dog, Jada, she was always having stomach problems. Through the recommendation of his vet, he started to cook for her and everything cleared up overnight. This was this first time that it dawned on me that dogs are meant to eat food. We’re trained to feed them these overly processed brown balls, and this was this first time that I connected the dots and started forming the idea of The Farmer’s Dog. There was a desire to fix this issue, and my experience from the past two years had equipped me with the tools needed. Everything came back full circle — I was able to start a company that would bring value while also being able to use an innovative business model and technology to solve a real problem.”
The food at Farmer’s Dog is human-grade, made fresh, and delivered to your doorstep. Not only are the meals made from whole foods, but Farmer’s Dog takes it one step further, customizing a meal plan based on your dog’s breed, weight, and age. Over the last couple of years, The Farmer’s Dog has begun to be recognized by media outlets like Forbes, Vogue, and The Wall Street Journal. A business begun for $5,000 has carved itself a sizable niche in an industry that generates billions of dollars a year. “We see an opportunity to build a business that is authentic and truly has the customer’s best interest in mind, and we can use technology to continue to improve the products we provide to our customers. Ideally, our vision only becomes really powerful if we truly affect the industry. We know we have done a great job when the big guys start to make food like ours.”
So does Regev have any advice for current Cal students? “My gut reaction is to say do as much as you can while you are there, take as many interesting courses as possible, and do everything you can to surround yourself with the right people. The environment is pretty special and you have a lot of things that are available to you. Be out and involved in as many things as possible, because you never know which one is going to make a light bulb go off in your head.”
If you like to learn more about Jonathan or the Farmer’s Dog, visit thefarmersdog.com. And in case you were wondering, yes, Jonathan does have a dog. And yes, that dog does have his own Instagram page.